Hublot questions the material world
The Art of Fusion – the catchphrase of watchmaker Hublot – is no shallow promise, as embodied in two of its show-stopping releases from Baselworld earlier this year. Hublot’s explorations in marrying art and engineering, and often disparate techniques and materials, must leave an abundance of untold stories and ambitious experiments on the cutting-room floor of its headquarters in Nyon, just north of Geneva – but its successes have been many, and inspiring.
Hublot sprang two major surprises this year, in its Big Bang Unico Red Magic, which introduces colour to ultra-hard ceramic material, and the Big Bang MP-11 3D Carbon ($105,000), with an ultra-lightweight and unique carbon-fibre case and a movement derived from the brand’s fabled MP-05 “LaFerrari” model of 2013.
MP-11 3D Carbon Photo: Courtesy of Hublot
The Big Bang MP-11 3D Carbon is housed in a 45mm case equally distinguished by its precise, cross-hatched carbon-fibre strands, and the seven cylindrical barrels that contribute to a power reserve of an astonishing two weeks. Power is delivered to the hour and minute display via a transmission system that employs, most unusually, a 90-degree helical worm gear.
The seven barrels and 14-day power reserve amount to a “LaFerrari Lite” – that famous MP-05 achievement having boasted 11 barrels and a world-record 50-day power reserve.
The 3D Carbon’s distinctive case is made of a polymer reinforced by precisely-laid carbon weave. While massively durable, the material contributes to an overall weight of just 90 grams, and makes its watchmaking debut right here. Transparent “windows” in the case’s sides allow side-on viewing of the PVD-treated and visually intriguing HUB9011 skeleton movement within.
For even more remarkable transparency, Hublot has also engineered a sister MP-11 model encased in sapphire – another material pioneered in watchmaking by Hublot, with further advances including the 2017 introduction of coloured sapphires.
MP-11 Sapphire Photo: Courtesy of Hublot
Hublot’s technical mastery of the difficult, demanding sapphire material – the most resilient material after diamond – allowed it to reproduce the MP-11’s complex curvatures in a Sapphire version, again in a limited edition of just 200 units ($135,000).
Crystal-clear that particular Big Bang MP-11 may be, but the Big Bang Unico Red Magic ($33,800) is a celebration in riotous red. Stemming from the spirit of fusion that, in 2011, produced the patented “magic gold” (an alloy of 24K gold and ceramic), Hublot’s ongoing exploration of ceramic material has produced another patented material that combines superior hardness with a vivid red colouring.
Big Bang Unico Red Magic Photo: Courtesy of Hublot
The highly polished red ceramic material of the Red Magic’s 45mm case complements the gloss red finish of the hands, numerals and others details of the skeleton dial, which in turn provides a view of the HUB124 movement within.
The Big Bang Unico Red Magic is produced in an edition of just 500 units – though happily, Hublot promises that there’s plenty more magic, not least across the spectrum of colours, still to come from its tireless Metallurgy and Materials laboratory.